Native American curriculum bill heard in funding committee
Friday, June 23, 2017
The development of a K-12 curriculum on the Native American experience in Oregon received a hearing before the Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee on Tuesday. Senate Bill 13 would require the Oregon Department of Education to make the curriculum available by the 2019-20 school year.
Committee testimony was entirely in support of the bill. Modesta Minthorn, linguist for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, testified about the effects a Native American curriculum could have.
“When the state invests in culturally based education and provides historically accurate curriculum, Native American students will get reinforcement of their identity,” she said. “And with that reinforcement, teachers will see enhanced socio-emotional well-being. Studies and classroom experience will tell you this positively affects math and reading test scores. SB 13 will help our tribe to tell our story using our voice.”
The committee discussion delved into the details. Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) asked Cindy Hunt, director of legislative and government affairs for ODE, how the curriculum would be distributed. Hunt indicated there would be some variety, specifically in consideration of “the relationships local districts have with tribes,” but that ODE had experienced success in the past with a “train the trainer” model. ODE trainers show district teachers the curriculum, and those teachers then train other teachers.
Gov. Kate Brown has indicated this is one of her priority bills for education this session, which points toward the bill moving out of committee. It has not been posted for a work session, though. OSBA will monitor the bill.